Protesters participate in a march aimed squarely at President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Chicago. (AP File Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Immigration lawyers echo CPS advice, critics question motives

SHARE Immigration lawyers echo CPS advice, critics question motives
SHARE Immigration lawyers echo CPS advice, critics question motives

If immigration agents show up at a school building, the principal probably should make them stay outside unless they have a warrant, immigration attorneys said Wednesday.

That echoes the advice in a memo Chicago Public Schools officials issued Tuesday.

President Donald Trump over the weekend issued a series or mandates that would seem like a prelude to a wave of deportations, and that has set immigrant families on edge in Chicago and across the U.S., said Jacqueline Stevens, Director of the Deportation Research Clinic at Northwestern University’s Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

Tuesday, CPS sent a memo to principals spelling out what to do if U.S. Immigrations & Customs Enforcement agents show up at their door: don’t let them in without a warrant; call the CPS Law Department; don’t give them student information.

The one-page memo is a very brief statement of Constitutional and state laws, Stevens said.

“The rule of thumb is, immigration agents can ask questions of anybody, just like an ordinary person can, but people have to feel free, unless there is a warrant, that they are free to go,” Stevens said. “If they don’t (feel they can leave), then you could be in violation of the 4th Amendment. Somebody that’s a juvenile in a school environment is not going to feel free to leave if they’re being questioned by an ICE agent.”

Stevens said she wasn’t aware of immigration agents conducting raids or making arrests at schools in Illinois, but noted that Trump’s rapidly shifting policy moves and harsh rhetoric around immigration leave plenty of room for anxiety.

“With the Trump Administration nothing is impossible,” Stevens said. “The guidelines are important, and they’re in keeping with constitutional law. It’s good for people to be on notice that this is possible.”

Immigration officials did not respond to questions from the Chicago Sun-Times about the number of arrests agents have made on school campuses, but provided links to several webpages outlining the agency’s guidance on enforcement provided by the Trump administration. The agency also affirmed that a guidance memo on making arrests or other operations at “sensitive locations”— such as schools, churches or hospitals— remained in place.

“The consideration is primarily that communities feel safe in accessing health care, that parents feel safe in taking their children to school and getting their education,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigration Justice Center, a Chicago-based immigrant rights organization.

CPS officials said they issued the press release following a flurry of questions from parents and staff, as well as a significant attendance dip last week during the “Day Without Immigrants” protests last week, when more than 50,000 of the district’s 381,000 students did not show up for classes.

The district will not say what percentage of students may be undocumented, and may not know: state law bars school districts from requiring citizenship or immigration status information from students. About 46 percent of CPS students identify as Hispanic, and 17 percent are considered English language learners.

Frequent CPS critic Troy LaRaviere, former principal of Blaine Elementary School and president of the union representing CPS principals and administrators, questioned the motives of district officials’ outreach to Latino students and parents. Monday, a Sun-Times report found that a CPS spending freeze that took effect this month disproportionately hurt the budgets of predominantly Latino schools.

Schools with 51 percent or greater Latino enrollment saw their budgets cut at roughly double the rate of majority-white schools, the Sun-Times found. On Wednesday, all but two members of the district’s 18-member Latino advisory board resigned to protest the disparity.

“You can’t say you’re a sanctuary city when you’re undermining the institutions that are an actual sanctuary for their community,” LaRaviere said. “The actions are out of line with their words.”

The Latest
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown unsuccessfully pushed for a 10-day suspension for Officer Adolfo Bolanos, who shot 17-year-old Michael Elam Jr. three times in February 2019.
Keuchel’s ERA climbed to 7.88 after his latest poor outing Thursday.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown pushed for a 180-suspension, but the vice president of the Chicago Police Board ruled against him.
U.S. health officials declare Cook, collar counties at high risk for COVID-19 outbreaks and strain on hospitals.
Host and designer Alison Victoria helps a couple expecting their first child build their Evanston home from the ground up.